“I love you so much, Dad”, exclaims Beth (14), as she gives me a giant hug.  She then grabs her bag and heads outside.

“I love you”, I proclaim to Rachel (11), to which she replies, “Love you too”, as she jumps into my arms for before leaving.

Then Ben (8), with a short but fast run, jumps into my arms also declaring, “I love you, Daddy…I’ll miss you”.  He then plants a kiss on my cheek to which I reciprocate.

I say that I’ll see them this Friday and watch them all walk towards their mother’s car.  It’s only three days away, but will feel like an eternity.  They drive off, the door closes, and I am left in silence.  I turn around to see a few pairs of children’s shoes and Ben’s sweater hanging on a coat hook.  I wander out to the kitchen and view the latest artwork that Rachel created, that I put up on the fridge.  Beth has written a big “I LOVE YOU”, on the whiteboard.  I pour myself a glass of water and sit at the island, alone, surrounded by the most deafening silence you can imagine.  My heart is going a mile a minute and all I can do is wish my house was filled with the happy noises of my three kids.  But, that will have to wait a few more days.

Divorce sucks.  It can be lonely, painful, and definitely heartbreaking.  I know it was the right decision for me, but, it doesn’t make it any easier. I used to cry when the kids left, until one day, Beth and forgotten something and came back inside.  She had caught me, red and puffy eyed. She hugged me, long and hard.  She’s older and she knew, just by looking at me.  This was one of toughest things I had ever gone through, though I knew I had to overcome it.  I never wanted my kids to see me that way again. I didn’t want them to feel like they were ever causing me pain.  I wanted my kid’s half time, but the mother wouldn’t go for it.  And, the courts, favour the mother, even over a good father.  It’s unfair, and sickening.

In the meantime, how was I going to overcome the sadness of missing my children.  My solution was somewhat different.  Instead of shedding more tears, I threw myself into their lives, more than I had done previously.  I had to sacrifice some things that were important to me.  But, they were my complete focus.  Lessons, sports, recitals, school, homework…it didn’t matter, I was there.  Quality time with them, was more important than anything else. It helped the loneliness disperse.  Most importantly, we have grown even closer, because of it.  And, it has made me a better father, much more now, than when I was married.

Years ago, a good friend taught me the definition of sacrifice.  “Giving up something good, for something better”, he’d say.  “Live your life by that rule, and you’ll be the happiest man on earth.”   It’s only taken me twenty years to figure this out.  Hopefully, you are much smarter than I am.

What are your experiences?  Whether you’re a single mother or father, how do you overcome the loneliness when the kids aren’t around?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

13 Replies to “Loneliness without the kids…

  1. Yes, divorce sucks. Even here the courts unfairly favor the mother regardless of the goodness of the father. I fought in the courts for a couple of years just to get them about 46% of the time, Wednesday – Friday every other week and almost the entire summers. One thing that gets me through the times they are not with me is my blog, Perfectly Imperfect Parents that I share with my best friend. Writing about ours lives soothes the hurt. Like you, I attend every play, field trip, teacher conference, swimming lesson, doctors appointment, every aspect of their lives I will be part of. I am lucky in that my job (work from home developer) allows me such freedom. Their lives became my life. I think about them all the time when they are not with me I am planning the moments when I will see them again. I have become a better person, I believe in causes more passionately now, I see things clearer with a purpose. The sadness doesn’t go away. When I drop them off the emotions choke me, but I take that sadness and tender it, make it mine, because it stems from my love for them. Thank you for the blog, I now know I am not alone.

    1. Wow, thanks for making me cry. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone either. you’re right though, many good father’s get screwed in the court system. It’s wrong. And, you are also correct about the blog soothing the hurt. I think that is part of why I started doing this. In hindsight, I should’ve done it long ago. Thanks again for your response…it was very touching. All the best!

  2. I’ve never experienced divorce or what it does to families but this made me tear up. It’s great to hear the perspective of a Dad because usually we demonize fathers because we always figure they’re in the wrong… I hope this finds you in good spirits.
    P.S. You definitely should be blogging.

  3. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a single parent and have your children going back and forth. It’s commendable that you’re so involved in their lives even when it isn’t your time with them, that they can count on you. Thanks for sharing this.

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